Pittsburgh owner Kevin McClatchy — the man who paid Derek “Operation Shutdown” Bell $9 million and the singles-hitting Jason Kendall far more — has joined Baltimore’s Peter Angeles in the chorus decrying baseball’s latest explosion in player salaries. From the Associated Press’ Alan Robinson :

“I don’t know what happened, maybe they drank some funny water, but they all decided they were back on the binge,” McClatchy said. “When somebody goes out and pays an average pitcher $7 million a year, then anybody who’s an average pitcher says they need $7 million a year. That’s very difficult, and when you’re giving pitchers $18 million in arbitration, that also makes it difficult.”

After two offseasons with relatively few huge contracts, McClatchy admittedly was stunned with what he called a series of signings that were “ridiculous — at best.”

McClatchy (above) also questions how teams that only recently were talking about financial stress agreed to huge contracts. Arizona signed pitcher Russ Ortiz for $33 million and third baseman Troy Glaus for $45 million, both over four years.

“What you don’t want to see is some of these teams spend themselves into bankruptcy — that’s not good for any of the league, that becomes a liability on all of us,” McClatchy said. “I’m not sure if some of these people are writing checks with money they necessarily have, and that’s a negative thing.

He added, “You wonder how, since they were in a tough financial spot, some of the spending is going to work, how they’re eventually going to be able to pay their bills. When you’re drawing 1.7 million, and you take your payroll up too high, you just do the math.”

Of course, McClatchy has shown time and time again that he’s willing to splash out if it means bringing in a mediocre veteran who’d otherwise struggle to get a spring training invite from a smarter club. Pittsburgh were quite willing to roll the dice on Bell, Will Cordero, Brian Boehringer, etc. and are now deep in talks to bring in free-swinging outfielder Jeromy Burnitz.